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News Wrap: Iraq PM Maliki steps down as support crumbles

August 14, 2014 at 6:02 PM EDT
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JUDY WOODRUFF: The governor of Missouri today ordered the state Highway Patrol to take over security in the Saint Louis suburb of Ferguson.

Local police have drawn heavy criticism for their use of force against protesters last night. The crowd was demonstrating against the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager. Highway Patrol Captain Ron Johnson grew up in Ferguson, and he will be in charge.

He said it’s vital to break the cycle of violence.

RON JOHNSON, Captain, Missouri State Highway Patrol: I plan on tonight myself walking to the QuikTrip that has been called ground zero and meeting with the folks there myself tonight. And so we are going to have a different approach and have the approach that we are in this together, and look at our resources to make sure we’re not taking resources out there that we don’t need.

But when we do need those resources, they will still be here.

JUDY WOODRUFF: We will have the full story of the violence that erupted last night and explore what is behind racial tensions in the Saint Louis community after the news summary.

GWEN IFILL: Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki finally stepped down this evening, as his support crumbled on all sides. He announced he wants to — quote — “safeguard the high interests of the country.”

So, he will support Haider al-Abadi’s nomination to be prime minister. There was also word that the U.S. has decided not to expand a humanitarian rescue mission that might have put U.S. combat troops back on the ground.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: We do not expect there to be an additional operation to evacuate people off the mountain. And it’s unlikely that we’re going to need to continue humanitarian airdrops on the mountain.

GWEN IFILL: From President Obama today, confirmation that the crisis facing Yazidi refugees in Northern Iraq has greatly eased. Fighters from the Islamic State group had surrounded thousands of Yazidis on Mount Sinjar. But military and civilian advisers sent in this week reported U.S. airstrikes broke the siege.

At the Pentagon today, Rear Admiral John Kirby said the air campaign and Kurdish ground forces helped the Yazidis escape.

REAR ADM. JOHN KIRBY, Pentagon Press Secretary: We believe that thousands of them were leaving every night. Now, it’s — I can’t give you an exact figure of how many every night, but certainly more than 1,000 or so every night were leaving the mountain with Peshmerga help.

GWEN IFILL: Kirby estimated about 4,000 people remain on the mountain, but nearly half are said to be herders who live there and have no interest in leaving. Those who did leave continue to arrive in refugee camps and many say they will never return.

MAN (through interpreter): No way. No way can I go back. How can my eyes see Sinjar again, when I witnessed hundreds of people die there?

GWEN IFILL: Meanwhile, there were new clashes in Western Iraq today between Islamic State fighters and government forces around Fallujah, in Anbar Province.

The governor of the province appealed for U.S. airstrikes there too, but American officials had no immediate response. In another development, France announced the imminent delivery of military aid to Kurdish forces battling the militants.

JUDY WOODRUFF: In Pakistan, thousands of anti-government demonstrators headed toward Islamabad, the capital, where police have barricaded entry points.

The protesters are demanding that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif resign over claims he came to power a year ago through vote-rigging. One protest convoy was led by Imran Khan, an opposition party leader. Cars, trucks and buses left from Lahore this morning with more than 5,000 protesters. Others joined along the way.

GWEN IFILL: Three people were killed in Egypt today, as security forces crushed small protests by Islamists. They were trying to mark the anniversary of the killing of more than 1,000 demonstrators one year ago. Those demonstrations followed the military ouster of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi.

JUDY WOODRUFF: A Russian aid convoy edged closer to the Ukrainian border today. More than 200 vehicles headed toward a crossing controlled by pro-Russian rebels. Ukrainian officials had demanded the convoy pass through a of its government border post so that its cargo can be inspected.

Meanwhile, the Ukrainian government dispatched its own shipment of relief supplies to the war-torn region. It is sending 75 trucks loaded with 800 tons of aid.

GWEN IFILL: Doses of a potentially lifesaving drug have arrived in Liberia to treat Ebola patients. ZMapp is still untested, and these are the last known doses. The company that developed it says producing more will take months. Also today, the U.S. ordered family members of embassy employees in Sierra Leone to leave immediately due to the Ebola outbreak.

JUDY WOODRUFF: There’s word that actor and comedian Robin Williams was in the early stages of Parkinson’s disease when he committed suicide. His wife, Susan Schneider, announced it today in a statement. Williams had a long history of substance abuse, but the statement said he had returned to sobriety. Parkinson’s disease attacks the nervous system and destroys the ability to control movement. It is incurable.

GWEN IFILL: On Wall Street today, the Dow Jones industrial average gained more than 61 points to close at 16,713; the Nasdaq rose nearly 19 points to close at 4,453; and the S&P 500 was up eight points to finish at 1,955.